SE Asia's biggest peacekeeping, anti-terror training camp opens

SE Asia's biggest peacekeeping, anti-terror training camp opens
New hope for peace: Indonesian Military (TNI) armed personnel carriers, which are assigned to the international peacekeeping mission, stand guard at the newly built Indonesia Peace and Security Center (IPSC) in Sentul, West Java, on Monday.

BOGOR, West Java - At a cost of around Rp 1.64 trillion (S$180 million), Southeast Asia's largest training centre for counterterrorism and United Nations (UN) peacekeeping officially commenced operations on Monday.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono inaugurated the Indonesia Peace and Security Center (IPSC), in Sentul, West Java, which will provide world-class training for local and international stakeholders.

"This centre is proof of Indonesia's commitment to maintaining global peace, as stipulated in the 1945 Constitution," Yudhoyono said in his speech at the inauguration ceremony.

The 262-hectare compound was constructed by the Defence Ministry in 2010, consisting of seven offices and training centers operated by, among others, the Indonesian Military (TNI), the National Police and the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT).

BNPT chairman Ansyaad Mbai said the agency's training centre would provide soldiers and police with the skills to handle terrorist-linked hijacks. For that, the agency has provided a mock-up of a passenger aircraft, a train, a ship and a hotel.

Ansyaad said that in the future, the facility would accommodate de-radicalization classes for terrorist convicts. "It's an integrated centre for all stakeholders in the field of counterterrorism," he said.

In relation to military purposes, the centre will provide training for UN peacekeeping troops as well as a base for standby military personnel awaiting emergency deployment.

The compound also consists of comprehensive sports facilities and a language-training centre.

Aside from a 600-meter shooting range, the compound is also equipped with simulated villages that resemble those of Congo and Lebanon - countries where Indonesian peacekeeping personnel will be deployed.

The compound also houses a disaster-management training camp and the Indonesian Defence University.

Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said that the compound was Southeast Asia's largest international training facility, the construction of which was partly funded by the US and Australia. "The US helped to construct the military barracks, while Australia established the language centre," said Purnomo.

The ministry has planted 114,641 trees and constructed three lakes at the complex that can function as water-absorption areas and training grounds for TNI peacekeepers.

"We've also built two water-treatment plants for the distillation of drinking water" Purnomo added.

During the speech, Yudhoyono said that Indonesia had an obligation as a UN member to maintain international peace. "We have a challenge to be involved in military operations other than war, that's why we built the centre," he said.

Yudhoyono said that Indonesia currently ranked 17 in the list of countries sending the largest contingents of troops for UN peacekeeping missions.

The President hoped that in the next year or two, the country hoped to be in the top ten.

"Currently, we have 2,000 peacekeepers and we hope that the number can be doubled in the next one or two years. If the numbers reached 4,000, then we would be in the top-ten list," he said.

Yudhoyono said that Syria might potentially be Indonesia's next peacekeeping mission if the Syrian government and the rebels approved a cease-fire between them.

The president himself has experience as a peacekeeping soldier during the conflict between Bosnia Herzegovina and Serbia from 1995 to 1996.

During that mission, Indonesia also sent civilian police officers and military experts to the area.

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